mental health

When Anxiety Makes You Plan Your Own Funeral

I know that title probably made you go “wait, what?”, but hang with me for a minute.  People sometimes say they can’t tell that I’m mentally ill from talking to me.  While I get that, it’s not as though I usually go around discussing delusions, hallucinations, causes of anxiety, or other symptoms with people I’m not particularly close to.  While I thankfully haven’t experienced any delusions or hallucinations lately, my anxiety has been increasingly bad since before Christmas in spite of being almost nonexistent for several months prior to that.

I recently went to a funeral where a lot of preaching and not much actual talking about the person who passed away happened and left thinking “hmm, I don’t want that when I die.”  I also had a general sense of impending doom even before our carbon monoxide detectors went off a few times this week.  (The heater is getting fixed as I type this, so don’t worry- I won’t actually die from carbon monoxide poisoning, but that wasn’t very comforting in the middle of the night two nights in a row when the alarm went off).  The sense of impending doom is honestly just part of suffering from anxiety.  It isn’t that out of the ordinary for me.

So last week and this week (or a few weeks ago by the time I publish this and you read it), I spent time painstakingly planning the details of my funeral service, selecting readings from some of my favorite books, writing my own obituary, making my own funeral programs (complete with book recommendations on the back), and making a slideshow of photos and videos from throughout my life.  In the past, I have seen how difficult it is for close family to do all of these things following a death and I don’t want the people I love to have to worry about those details when I am gone.  Hopefully that’s a really long time from now and I get to add tons of photos and videos to the slideshow and change the age on the obituary by many many years, but either way it is done now and on a flashdrive where we keep our important documents.

I know this may seem kind of morbid, so I want to assure you that I did talk with my therapist about it and she seemed to think it was a fairly reasonable response to my anxiety.  It’s something productive I could use my anxiety for instead of stressing and losing sleep and obsessing about what my funeral would be like.  When I die (again hopefully a long time from now), I want my funeral to be a celebration of my life and the ones and activities I loved.  Planning it myself was a small way to hopefully ensure that will happen.  Obviously, once I’m gone I’ll have no control over what anyone actually does, but my wishes are very clearly spelled out in black and white and most of the work is already done.

Anxiety is a tricky thing because it can keep you up all night and there often is little you can do to make it go away.  Coming up with creative solutions to lessen my anxiety is something I hope to do more of in the future.  Would you ever consider planning your own funeral?  Let me know in the comments!

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